In this dire time of a global pandemic, unavailability of beds in hospitals for COVID-19 patients has been one of the most discussed and debated topics. Many news articles have spoken about hospitals denying admissions to patients for treatment of COVID-19, sometimes leading to fatal consequences.

Seeking the court’s intervention, aggrieved citizens have filed PIL’s in various High Courts.

Advocate Hemant Gulati of the Delhi High Court has been actively petitioning to ensure that no hospital denies a patient treatment or admission. He has also taken on many cases in the National Capital on a pro-bono basis to help those in need. He shared some points on the topic in a video interview with BrutHindi.

“If the hospitals denies the treatment or beds to the patient, be it a Covid-19 patient or Non Covid-19 patient they are liable for the action. Article 21 of the Indian constitution provides every citizen a fundamental right to have a treatment or a medical treatment in the country itself. If a hospital still refuses a treatment or a bed, a complaint can be made,” says Advocate Hemant Gulati.

“The Constitution of India guarantees every citizen of the country the right to medical care; this extends to both COVID and non-COVID patients. If a hospital refuses to admit a patient or turns them away, you have the legal right to file a writ petition in a court of law,” says Advocate Gulati. He further adds, “You also have the option of registering your complaint with the Ministry of Health. In case a private hospital denies treatment to a non-COVID-19 patient, the hospital may lose its medical registration license.”

Advocate Gulati goes on to set forth an incident where he has succeeded in this sort of case wherein a girl who was 85% physically paralytical was thrown out of the hospital. The hospital denied the bed, all the while having the availability. The father of the girl gave Mr. Gulati a call in the midnight explaining the situation. Mr. Gulati stayed up all night and prepared a writ petition and the next morning he went in and presented the petition in front of the court.

In addition, within the span of about 8 hours, he was able to get the orders, the girl (patient) was immediately admitted to Max Hospital in Saket, and her treatment was commenced.

With the daily nationwide tally of coronavirus cases scaling new peaks every day. The Central government needs to change its approach to deal with the pandemic and adopt customized strategies based on the local situation.

Lockdown gave the governments time to prepare healthcare infrastructure and resources but we are seeing cities like Mumbai earlier and now Delhi struggling as the cases surge.

Maharashtra continues to be the worst affected, with nearly 250,000  cases.

According to the National Health Profile (NHP) 2018, Maharashtra has 711 public hospitals with 51,446 beds, a number that was inadequate even in a non-covid scenario. Rising coronavirus cases and the coming surge in monsoon ailments threaten to put a greater burden on the state’s healthcare system. As per NHP, in Maharashtra, there is just one government hospital in the state for every 166,880 people.

“We did not utilize the lockdown to prepare our containment strategy for effective implementation on the ground. Hospital readiness should have been at a higher level. Citizen volunteers and trained youth groups like NSS and NCC should have been engaged to help with case identification, contact tracing, support for home isolated persons and de-stigmatisation,” says Dr K Srinath Reddy President, Public Health Foundation of India, and member, National COVID 19 Task Force in an interview with TheIndianExpress. He further adds, “Since very few patients require ventilators, we should use home isolation for mild patients and admission to oxygen supply-assured hospitals for moderately ill patients, reducing the load on advanced intensive care units. Temporary hospitals can also be set up. The challenge will be to find healthcare providers in required numbers. Young medical and nursing graduates as well as self-employed doctors should be recruited.”

Dr Anisha Ashok, Surgical Gastroenterologist, Director & Chairman, Laser and Laparoscopic Hospital, Chennai says, “As doctors, we are morally bound by ethics. It is very important that every patient who comes to us should receive the treatment he or she deserves. Patients should not and cannot be denied treatment based on

In an attempt to curb this practice, State governments are now setting up 24×7 helpline numbers where you can lodge a complaint in case a hospital denies admission.

Karnataka: You can call the 24×7 helpline number — 1912. “Whoever calls the number will get immediate relief,” said Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar.

Delhi: Call 1031 if a hospital denies a bed to a COVID-19 patient if beds are available.

Mumbai: Call 1916

Tamil Nadu: Call 044-29510500

Pan India: Call toll-free helpline 1075 to get answers for Covid-19 related queries.

Please exercise your rights and call for help on the designated helpline number of your area in case you find yourself in a situation like this.

Photo Credits: Mumbai Live

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